Interview: ‘Life is a Bitch,’ at the 34th Chicago Latino Film Festival on April 18, 2018

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CHICAGO – The 34th Chicago Latino Film Festival (CLFF) has been nearly two weeks of the best in Latin American, Mexican and Hispanic cinema. As the festival wraps up on April 19th, one of its best comedies – “Life is a Bitch” from Brazil – will screen on Wednesday, April 18th, 2018. For more information, click here.

Best known in Brazil for her romantic comedies, director Julia Rezende shifts gears in her fifth feature film with this dark Coen Brothers-like comic drama about four friends – Vladimir, Clivia, Regina and Primo – who concoct an outrageous plan to get out of their financial doldrums… kidnapping Regina’s former boss. The only problem? They lack the proper “criminal” element in their individual souls. As the plan moves forward, their frustrations, ambitions and fears emerge, often hilariously.

The Fab Four of ‘Life is a Bitch’
Photo credit:

The film is an absolute delight, with a amazing comic performance by Deborah Lamm as Regina, and creates absurdity through authentic human foibles. talked to director Julia Rezende about “Life is a Bitch.” This is essentially a film about people trying to do the wrong thing, and failing miserably and hilariously. What were you saying about being a criminal in this film that you think makes it work?

Julia Redenze:The movie is about ordinary people – people who are invisible, trying to be noted, and trying to make something extraordinary happen. They aren’t criminals, but they make the wrong choices, because they have nothing to lose and they feel that this is the great chance to change their lives. The film gets its comedy because they do it with so much hope and so much faith, but we also see that they are completely unprepared and incapable. Those four would never be able to carry out a kidnapping! This film also highlights the authentic human nature of greed, jealously and love connection, from which you create that high comedy. Why do you think the truthful depiction of human nature is funnier than any other comedy?

Redenze: I think humor is a lens through which we see the world. And when humor is used to deal with our worst feelings, it becomes infallible because it exposes too much of our identity. We all have a dark and dirty side, in which ambition, envy and jealousy are present. We live trying to avoid those feelings, but when someone puts a magnifying glass on them we see ourselves, and it is ripe for ridicule. The character of Regina is a stunning force of nature. What was it about Debora Lamm that won her the part. What did she bring to the character that nobody who auditioned did?

Redenze: Debora is a fantastic actress, she can do both comedy and drama with the same resourcefulness. Regina is a woman who uses sex as a bargaining chip, has no shyness, is super-ambitious and is always plotting against everyone. She is entirely unreliable, but at the same time she is seductive and charismatic. Debora found the truth of the character and built her to be capable of everything, to win her place in the sun. The ‘force of nature’ that is Debora-as-Regina is in her desire never to be humiliated, and to be served rather than serve. What kind of work did you do with the actors that allowed them to understand how their characters were motivated? How did they find the key to those odd personalities?

Director Julia Redenze of ‘Life is a Bitch’
Photo credit: Julia Redenze

Redenze: I consider myself an ‘actor’s director.’ That’s what I most love in my profession, because actors are crazy, generous and surprising. They can suddenly do something I have never imagined, and that’s when the magic happens.

In this movie we worked on the script for a long time, and we did a lot of reading and rehearsing. We spent time together discussing the characters to the smallest detail, building their personalities, style and characterization. At the same time, I love improvisation, and I believe that the set must be alive and free for the actors to improvise when they feel it. One of your philosophies in the film is how an ordinary life, well lived, can be a payoff of sorts. What in your own life and profession as a filmmaker teaches you that lesson the most?

Redenze: The character of Clivia is the only one whose happiness is in small conquests. She wants to marry the man she loves, earn the money to pay her bills and live one day at at time, without breaking the rules. I feel like I’m a bit like this. Of course I have professional ambitions and dream to create many films, but I do not believe in the glamor of this work.

My joy lies in being surrounded by those I love and living my life with simplicity. I certainly prefer to work among friends, and the sets of my films are always a light and delicate environment, because I believe that generating love is always the best way to create. 

The 34th Chicago Latino Film Festival takes place through April 19th, 2018, at the AMC River East 21 Theatres, 322 East Illinois Street, Chicago. For film schedules and ticket information click here. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2018 Patrick McDonald,

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